Seth Godin wrote an awesome blog post today entitled, “Competition as a crutch”. He goes on to say,
We often point to competition as a tool to bring out the best in people. You will run faster or work harder or fight more ferociously if there’s someone breathing down your neck or a record to be broken.
The problem with competition is that it takes away the requirement to set your own path, to invent your own method, to find a new way. When you have competition, it’s the pack that decides what’s going to happen next, you’re merely trying to get (or stay) in front.
Competing with yourself is more difficult, requires more bravery and leads to more insight.
The second sentence in this posting was the real key point for me. I have been saying for years that I race because I love competition. I used to believe I love the thrill of competing against someone else. However, I discovered that in my quest to be “better” than others I was in fact just looking for acceptance, recognition, love. I didn’t really love the competition, rather I loved the kudos I’d get from others.
Competing for the wrong reasons
I was competing for the wrong reasons. Competition almost became a habit. The cue was feeling down or sorry on myself. The reward was gratification from others. The routine in the middle was competition of various kinds. If you’ve read “The Power of Habit”, by Charles Duhigg you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
Time for a break
When I realized this with the help of a mentoring group I decided to take a break off from competition. I decided that in order to truly understand what I like or love about sports it was necessary to take a step back.
The universe ensures I took a break
As though the world was listening, I was hit by a car riding my bike home from work, not even 2 weeks later. It’s like the world knew that I needed to take the break and it was going to do all it could to stop me.
I am competing again
Nearly a year later and I have competed in a few events. Nothing too hard, nothing too strenuous as I am still recovering. However, this time it has been different. It has been about fun. It has been about the “team”. It has been with a smile on my face. It has been with great people. The thing I’ve really discovered about racing/competing is that it feels really great to push myself against myself. Similarly, it also feels great to be a part of a group of people doing the same things to themselves. That’s the best part, being part of a team with everyone on the same page and having fun.
Who are you competing against? and more importantly why?
So regardless of the arena, athletics, life or business, ask your self these questions:
1. What am I competing for?
2. Who am I competing against?
3. Why am I competing?
If the answers aren’t meaningful enough, or worse if you don’t know the answers, then perhaps you’re competing for the wrong reasons.